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Defendant Moves to Set Aside Jury Verdict in DWI Case

A New York Criminal Lawyer said that, the defendant, by motion dated April 19, 2010, and filed April 21, 2010, moves pursuant to CPL §§ 330.30 and 370.10, to set aside a jury verdict convicting the defendant of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in violation of § 1192.2 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law. The defendant argues that the jury verdict was tainted by juror misconduct on the grounds that one of the jurors who rendered the verdict was not qualified to serve pursuant to § 510 of the Judiciary Law. § 510 of the Judiciary Law reads as follows:

§ 510. Qualifications. In order to qualify as a juror a person must: 1. Be a citizen of the United States, and a resident of the county; 2. Be not less than eighteen years of age; 3. Not have been convicted of a felony; 4. Be able to understand and communicate in the English language.

A Nassau Criminal Lawyer said that, the defendant was arrested and charged with violating §§ 1192.2 and 1163d of the Vehicle and Traffic Law. Both offenses were alleged to have been committed on the 29th day of January, 2005. After extensive pre-trial proceedings, a trial was commenced before the JDC on February 7, 2007. On February 9, 2007, the court declared a mistrial. Thereafter, there was additional motion practice, including a motion to dismiss the charges on the grounds that the defendant had been denied a speedy trial under § 30.30 of the CPL, as well as the ground that jeopardy had attached at the time of the mistrial. By decision dated August 2, 2007, the Judge denied the defendant’s motion. Thereafter, upon the Judge’s elevation to the Nassau County Court bench, the case was transferred to the JDC. Additional motion practice ensued and ultimately the matter was transferred to the undersigned for trial. The trial commenced on January 27, 2010 and concluded on February 2, 2010, on which date the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the charge of violating § 1192.2 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law, and not guilty on the charge of violating § 1163d of Vehicle and Traffic Law. Upon the rendering of the jury’s verdict the defendant was continued released on bail and the court ordered a pre-sentence report. The matter was therefore adjourned to April 6, 2010 for sentencing and thereafter to May 11, 2010 for defendant to submit the instant motion.

A New York Criminal Lawyer saidin the interim period between the verdict and sentence date, the assistant district attorney, who prosecuted the charges, learned that juror No.3, had, previous to his service as a juror on this case, been convicted of a felony. (In fact a search disclosed that the juror had 2 prior felony convictions). The assistant district attorney conveyed the information about the juror to the defendant’s attorney, who thereafter submitted the instant motion to set aside the verdict.

A Nassau DUI Lawyer said that, upon reviewing the defendant’s notice of motion, the district attorney’s affirmation in opposition, and the defendant’s reply affirmation, this court granted the defendant’s motion to the extent that an evidentiary hearing was ordered. The hearing was scheduled for July 7, 2010. At that hearing, the people and the defendant stipulated that the juror, had, prior to his jury service, been convicted of two felonies. The parties also agreed that it would be of importance to review the minutes of the voir dire of the juror, and the matter was continued for the parties to obtain the transcript. (It should be noted that all prospective jurors in Nassau County are asked to complete a standard jury questionnaire prior to the commencement of jury selection.

A Bronx Criminal Lawyer said that on or about the 6th day of November, 2010, the court received a transcript of the jury selection, including the examination of the juror who was ultimately seated as juror # 3. The transcript revealed that the juror never disclosed his prior criminal record, even when he asked to speak to the court and counsel outside the presence of the other jurors. This court has no doubt that the juror in question concealed his prior criminal record from the court and the parties. After reviewing the transcript, the parties were directed to appear before the undersigned to continue the hearing previously ordered and for the attorneys to present oral argument. On January 14, 2011, the parties appeared and upon inquiry by the court, both parties stated they did not intend to call any witnesses to testify. The attorneys presented their oral argument and upon conclusion, the court reserved decision.

It is the position of the defendant that § 510(3) of the Judiciary Law, by its clear language, rendered (juror # 3) unqualified to serve as a juror and that his failure to disclose his prior felony criminal record constituted juror misconduct which required the court to set aside the verdict. The people on the other hand argue that even if the prospective juror is not qualified under § 510(3) of the Judiciary Law, the verdict should not be set aside unless the defendant can show that the juror’s misconduct resulted in bias which tainted the jury’s verdict.

A Brooklyn Criminal Laywer said the issue in this case is whether the verdict should be aside on the ground that jury verdict was tainted by juror misconduct and that one of the jurors who rendered the verdict was not qualified to serve pursuant to § 510 of the Judiciary Law. § 510 of the Judiciary Law.

As stated above, the juror in question failed to disclose his prior criminal history. Based upon the stipulation of the parties and this court’s review of the juror’s NYS fingerprint record (NYSID) it is clear that juror # 3, was not qualified to sit as a juror. Based upon a reading of the statute (510.3 of the Judiciary Law) one would likely be inclined to determine that the jury’s verdict should be set aside and a new trial ordered for the defendant. However, it appears that the case law regarding juror non-qualification and misconduct indicates otherwise. There is little doubt in this court’s mind that the juror in question willfully concealed from the parties and the court his prior criminal history. If the juror had disclosed his criminal record as required on the juror questionnaire, the juror most assuredly would have been excused.

There is no doubt that the juror’s action constituted misconduct. However, in order to set aside a jury verdict the law requires that the juror’s conduct resulted in actual bias against the defendant.

However, the Supreme Court decision in Clark dealt with the issue of whether the evasive/untruthful juror could be prosecuted for contempt and not with the setting aside of the underlying verdict. In fact, there is no per se rule requiring the setting aside of a jury verdict upon the post-verdict discovery that a juror had previously been convicted of a felony.

This fact does entitle the defendant to an evidentiary hearing, and the defendant was afforded this hearing on July 7, 2010 and January 14, 2011. At such hearing, the defendant bore the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Rogers’ failure to disclose his prior felony conviction(s) resulted in actual bias against the defendant. However, the defendant failed to present any evidence or testimony at the hearing indicating that she was subjected to actual bias as a result of Mr. Rogers’ failure to disclose his prior felony convictions. Accordingly, the defendant’s motion is denied.

Accordingly, the court held that the defendant is directed to appear for sentencing on April 19, 2011, in Part 12 of the District Court of Nassau County, 99 Main Street, Hempstead, New York. The foregoing constitutes the decision and order of the Court.

If you want to assure that you will have a fair trial, you will need the help of a Nassau DWI Attorney and Nassau Order of Protection Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates. Call us now.

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